Farinata (Ligurian Chickpea Flatbread)

Farinata

I don’t remember now where I came across making a thin batter out of chickpea (garbanzo beans) flour and water then cooking it in an oiled skillet. It was definitely good, however, I thought I’d make it again this week as a substitute for buns for polish dogs.

It didn’t really wrap as well as I imagined but the flavors of the rosemary-infused flatbread meshed well with the caramelized onions, horseradish and mustard topped meat. All’s well that ends well (in a full tummy).

I remembered what I had done the first time: mix one cup chickpea flour with one cup water. It was good but a bit bland, so I went looking for a better recipe. I found it at We Are Never Full, which is also where I learned that this particular preparation is called “farinata” and comes from the Ligurian region of Italy.

I had everything I needed to make it. Fresh rosemary, check. Sage leaves? Er, I haven’t had sage in the house in years, but the basil plant is going strong, so check! Chickpea flour? Double check.

I read through the recipe a couple of times and wrote down the necessary quantities on my notepad. Satisfied I knew what I was doing, I puttered into the kitchen. The batter came together beautifully in a matter of minutes. I had just enough time to let it rest the requisite hour. I looked at my notes.. 1/2 cup olive oil? Seems a bit much, doesn’t it? Hmm.

I poured it into the cast iron skillet. Mine is a little smaller than hers – an 11″ not a 12″. But when you’re talking about a 1/2 cup of oil, it apparently makes a huge difference. It looked really, really deep. I frowned at it, it didn’t go away. So I figured it wasn’t *really* as deep as I thought, let’s just try anyway and poured the batter in.

Oh dear. That didn’t work at all. The batter floated on the oil. It literally did not touch the bottom of the pan as far as I could tell. No point now in doing anything other than cooking it, really. I wanted to see what would happen so I put it in the oven, closed the door and hoped it would still come out.

You can see where this is going. No, it didn’t come out. But it did. I took it out after 30 minutes. The flat bread was completely cooked (and utterly oily) but the flavors were really good. I threw it in the trash, drained off most of the oil into a jar to be reused later, and started whisking up a new batch.

Now, however, the rest of dinner was nearly done. So I whisked it up into a fairly thin batter, heated up the skillet on the range and pan-fried a few in a scant two tablespoons of oil. Those came out perfectly. The flatbread was fluffy and redolent with rosemary. Not as thick or as nice as it would have come out in the oven, but next time, I’ll do it with just enough oil to cover the pan and preheat it in the oven. I’ve written that into the recipe (as much for me as for anyone reading) but it’s as yet untried.

Farinata [printable recipe]

Recipe adapted from We Are Never Full

  • 1 1/4 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 1/4 cups water or kefir
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Combine flour and spices in a small bowl, then whisk in the liquid until a thin batter comes together. It should be the consistency of milk or a good crepe batter. Let rest for 1 hour (up to overnight), skimming off any foam that develops.

For oven-baking: Preheat the oven to 425 with a cast iron skillet inside. Take the (hot!) pan out, pour in about 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil, swirl to coat as needed, then add the batter. Bake for 30 minutes, checking at 25 minutes, for a crispier farinata, OR bake for 15 – 17 minutes and broil for 2 minutes, for a softer version.

For pan-frying: Pour a tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Heat over medium heat. When ready, pour some batter into the skillet, swirling it around a la crepes and flipping halfway through. When golden brown, remove to a waiting plate, add a bit of oil to the pan if necessary and repeat.

We made ours thicker, like pancakes, but you can make them as thin as crepes too.

Notes:

  1. A related version called socca, from Nice, France, incorporates some olive oil into the batter as well.

. . .
By the way, you should really click on the link in the recipe above. The smiling goat is adorable!

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3 Responses to Farinata (Ligurian Chickpea Flatbread)

  1. thanks for your feedback. i think you may be right w/ the olive oil quantity we recommend in our recipe. I probably should say in the recipe “as much oil as necessary to cover your pan. The thing is, you definitely need enough to crispen it on the bottom while it’s in the oven. the olive oil almost fries the bottom. i have a feeling that the over abundance of olive oil that was used with whatever cooking vessel you utilized caused it to be, well, useless.

    yours looks much fluffier and pancake-like that ours. i like your idea of using it as a wrapper…

    i really appreciate the feedback and will, in fact, remake my recipe again to check on that olive oil thing. i’m definitely waiting till the weather cools down!

    • Cori Rozentāle says:

      It was definitely too much oil that ruined it. It was floating and there’s no real excuse for my not catching it. I’m positive that if I had just used a few tablespoons, it would have come out perfectly; in fact, the flavor of the oven-baked one was superb even with deep-frying in oil. The sad part was, I wrote down 1/4 cup / 8 tbsp (oops) oil on my pad, an error that probably would have worked in my favor if I’d used the cups not the tablespoons as written.

      I think that my batter wound up being about 1/2″ deep, maybe a little less. It seemed about right for my big cast iron skillet. In the end, it wrapped okay, but I made them a bit too thick to easily eat once wrapped. When I do it again, I’ll probably do a thinner version or make the oven-baked one (correctly) and just top wedges.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

  2. also, i was wondering if you added too much batter to the pan before baking it? you really should only add about 1 centimeter/ 1/2 and inch of batter to the pan. Just another thought…

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